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Garadget review: Garadget adds voice control and simple smarts to your garage

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Garage door automation, when done well, can certainly make life easier. Connected garage doors keep you from more wondering if you closed the garage door when you left for work or if you remembered to shut it when you came home. The Garadget is an $89 smart controller that adds simple smarts like remote access and voice control to your existing garage door opener. As much as those features are handy, if you're looking for more advanced things like full geofencing, a live video feed and scheduling, look elsewhere

The Good

The Garadget adds voice control and remote access to your existing garage door.

The Bad

The Amazon Alexa skill proved difficult to initiate, many features require IFTTT and the Garadget doesn’t include scheduling.

The Bottom Line

If you’re just looking for simple voice command and remote access capability, the Garadget will get the job done for less than $100.
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Garadget attaches to the bottom of your garage door opener. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Installing the Garadget is simple. With about 15 minutes and a screwdriver, you can get everything up and running. Before attaching the Garadget to your garage door opener, you'll need to pair it to your Wi-Fi network using the Garadget app for iOS and Android devices. Create an account within the app and temporarily link the Garadget to the Wi-Fi signal it produces in order to connect it to the 2.4GHz network you actually want to use. Be sure your garage gets a strong Wi-Fi signal. 

The Garadget device adheres to your existing garage door opener with an adhesive strip provided with your purchase. The Garadget comes with a USB power cable as well as a two-wire cable for connecting the Garadget to your opener. Plug in the power cord to an outlet near your garage door opener and connect the two-wire cable to the nodes on your opener that control opening and closing commands. The Garadget, and other devices like it, often don't specify which wires go where, since it varies by opener model. For this reason, you may need to refer to your opener's manual. 

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Garadget uses a cable with two wires to attach to your existing garage door opener for open and close commands. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Once you've connected the wires, a reflective, circular tag adheres to the top panel of your garage door to pick up the Garadget's laser sensor, which tells the connector if the door is open, closed or somewhere in between. Using the app and voice commands successfully really hinges (pun intended) on placing that reflective tag correctly on the top panel of your door. Before I added the tag and centered the laser on it, I received several false notifications and alerts that the door was open or closed when it wasn't. Once I added the reflective piece, it was much more accurate.

With the Garadget installed, the Garadget app displays a graphic representing your garage door and its current status. This is the interface for controlling your door, as well as viewing settings, histories and status. Within the app settings, you can customize alerts to tell you if the door has been open for a certain amount of time, ranging from 30 seconds to 12 hours. You can also enable alerts to let you know if the garage is left open between a specific time window, say from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. There's even a geofence-like feature that will alert you if the door is open when you've left the area. That customizable radius ranges from 15 meters to 500 meters (roughly 49 feet to 1,640 feet). While there isn't a native geofencing capability for opening or closing the garage, you can use an IFTTT applet created by Garadget.

One of Gadget's biggest selling points is its support for voice assistant commands. The Garadget works with Amazon Alexa via the Garadget skill, which proved marginally effective in my experience. Several times in my testing, Alexa mistook "Garadget" to mean "Garageio," another product in Amazon's set of skills, even when I disabled the Garageio skill. I had to really exaggerate my annunciation for Alexa to understand which skill I wanted.

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The main menu of the Garadget app displays door status, settings and alert options. 

Screenshot by Molly Price/CNET

The Garadget also works with Google Assistant via the Garadget IFTTT service. Since the product name wasn't part of the triggering phrase for Google Assistant, controlling my garage this way was a much better experience. The IFTTT recipe allowed me to open and close the garage with a simple phrase like "Ok Google, close the garage door." I preferred this method to Alexa's picky pronunciations. Garadget is not Homekit compatible.

Both voice assistants can open or close the door and tell you the door's current status. The Amazon Garadget skill does come with some fine print admitting there isn't any authentication involved, meaning anyone within hearing range of your Alexa-enabled device could ask Alexa to open or close the garage. If you're worried about security, that's something to consider, though unless you're leaving windows open, it would likely be difficult for someone outside your home to reach your device.

The Garadget does most of what it claims to do well. I'd recommend the Garadget to anyone interested in voice commands, notifications and remote access. Still, after testing garage door openers with cameras either built-in or sold as part of a kit, I've come to prefer a real, live feed to confirm visually that my door is open or closed. Trusting an animation in an app to accurately depict the status of your door just doesn't feel like enough. Cameras seem like a natural accessory for the garage, and if I were going to install the Garadget, I'd probably also purchase a smart camera to watch the space.

The Garadget is a simple system with a fuss-free, durable design. The Garadget doesn't feel overpriced, but there are other systems out there for not much more money. Chamberlain's MyQ system costs $100 and you can add a Homekit bridge for $70. Garager, which includes a camera, costs $129. If you just need a few simple smarts to manage your garage, the Garadget works well. If you're looking for more advanced features like scheduling or a system that includes its own camera for live feeds, the Garadget isn't your best bet. 

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6.3

Garadget

Score Breakdown

Features 7Usability 6Design 6Performance 6